THE Consumer Rights Act 2015 has come into force today, and one clause in particular has got the automotive industry talking.
Section 22 is entitled ‘Time limit for short-term right to reject’. Under this section, customers are entitled to up to 30 days to reject or return a faulty car for a full refund and entitled to one repair or a replacement should a fault be found within the first six months.
Previously, such a right lasted ‘a reasonable time’ and was defined by examples of case law, but the introduction of this Act will bring clarity to consumers’ rights when returning a faulty vehicle.
However, it is not necessarily a bad thing for dealers, either, as the new law could prevent consumers from involving trading standards and hopefully prevent consumer/dealer disputes escalating, providing both parties understand their rights.
John Colinswood is Managing Director of the WMS Group, which provides warranties for dealerships.
He said there were a number of preventative steps that dealers can take in order to avoid finding themselves in such a situation.
Within the introduction of the new Act, the ‘reversal of the burden of proof’ still remains, ie, the dealer has to show that the fault was not there at purchase. The difference now is that the dealer could have to repay the full purchase price of the vehicle and have it returned with a faulty engine.
It is imperative that the dealer can prove that the vehicle did not have the fault at purchase, and in doing so, will not be liable under the new Act.
There are three things that can help:
1) A robust pre-sales check sheet verified by the PDI engineer and also with the salesman at handover with customer.
2) A brand new MOT.
3) Any claims under a third party warranty / guarantee do not count under this legislation as the warranty / guarantee cannot take away the rights that the consumer now has, and is therefore separate to the new Act.
Lawgistics, which offers legal solutions for the motor trade, echoes his sentiment. It recommends that dealers review their pre-delivery processes and introduce the implementation of a new, independent MOT before a vehicle is sold.
See Issue 92 of Car Dealer Magazine for more on the new Act and its implications.